How to get over your imperfect past


Lord of Penmai
Jul 5, 2011
How to get over your imperfect past

Being painfully preoccupied with one's past is a pattern many suffer from. People who do this are pessimistic historians. They need to be converted to forward-looking prophets who predict happy things for themselves. A negative mental and emotional habit may be caused by elders who had the same habits, low self-esteem, trauma or the habit of blaming external situations for depression. Here are some of the thought patterns that need to be challenged.

I am unlucky
A patient believed he was unlucky. He said his father was partial to his sister and had complaints about his school, job and current family. During conversations, we returned to his childhood through meditative relaxation exercises and recollected phrases and conversations about his parents. What spilled out were similar statements his father made about his own life. 'I am unlucky' was the phrase his dad uttered all the time. It was also true that he was indulgent with his daughter but did not allow the patient to take risks. Through guided conversations we broke this 'neural wiring' and rebuilt a new one allowing the patient to see his life in a positive perspective. The past was viewed as a laboratory for shaping the future. From a pessimistic historian he gradually became a prophet for his own life.

It's his/her fault
Another patient always blamed her husband for some problems in her daughter's life. She said he was indulgent and inconsistent with her and did not spend enough time with her. At first, we found she indeed had reasons to believe what she did. But on gentle and further exploration, what emerged was that she nursed a big fear of being a failure as a mother. This anxiety led her to see small errors of the past as big mistakes. She ignored all probable solutions. In chats, she recollected she was reprimanded a lot by school teachers. The images were alive for her and the memories painful. Gradually, as she dealt with these memories, she was able to see an ally in her husband.

My past was painful
Let's call her Ms L. She was overprotective of her family. She would not allow anybody to commute by train or a bus. She would hold her teenager's hand while crossing a road. She would make innumerable calls when her husband was late at work. Her conversations revolved around her hardships. This woman suffered physical abuse as a child and suffered from excessive fear and low self esteem. She would constantly narrate her hardships and vowed she would not allow her family to suffer the same. In that process she would choke everyone.

In conversations, we found that her memories were very intense. She would burst into tears. After some time, she opted for a course in Vipassana. As she practised meditation daily, she got better and the memories faded. She even shared her memories with her father. She has since moved on.

The look-at-me syndrome
One of my uncles would always give me long sermons about how he made it big with hard work. "We walked 10 miles daily to attend school and had nothing to eat", he said. We adored him as a child and used to feel guilty for having enough. Later, as I was studying mental health I realised he was suffering from the 'Look at me' syndrome. The next time I met him I asked whether anyone helped him at all. Gradually, the truth emerged. He was assisted financially by neighbours and his food was taken care of by close relatives. He had never mentioned this earlier. There is no one on this earth who has never experienced love, compassion and assistance. The 'glories' hide that.

My 'tape' runs against my will
People who brood and ruminate about their past excessively may be suffering from severe depression. They tend to recollect all the negative incidents and feel excessively guilty and sad for them. Typically, they just cannot stop this 'tape recorder' of the brain. Such people should not ignore their tendency to be tethered to history and seek help so they can l
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